Composed by Shaun Davey Granuaile is based on the
life of 'Pirate Queen' Grace O'Malley, the 16th century Irish woman
chieftain whose galleys dominated the seas off the Mayo coast. With
all its passion adventure, drama and pain, Shaun Davey found an
ideal subject for his lyrical, evocative, highly human work. In
Rita Connolly, with a voice of the purity of crystal, he found the
ideal Grace O'Malley. Together they have made the legend of 'Granuaile'
(Grace O'Malley in Irish) come vividly to life. 'The Granuaile Suite'
(1985) sets an episode of Irish history in the context of wider
European history through a work which appeals to music lovers of
all ages. One song in the cycle, 'Ripples in the Rockpools' quickly
became a popular classic and is now in the official Irish school
'Granuaile' distills the essence of this indomitable woman whose
galleys ruled the seas off Western Ireland during the times of Elizabethan
conquests. Curiously enough, no contemporary ballads celebrating
her story have come down to us. The suite fills this gap in traditional
musical history, portraying her defence of her territory, her seafaring
exploits, he dismissal of her husband, the death of her lover in
battle, her compassion for the men of the Spanish Armada who perished
in the sea along the coast of Western Ireland. It tells of her persecution
at the hands of the notorious Governor of Connaught and of her daring
voyage to England to protest that persecution in a confrontation
with Queen Elizabeth I.
Gearoid Grant & Rita Connolly, Waterfront Hall, Belfast
The sound of 'Granuaile' is unique, produced by a chamber orchestra
comprised of 35 classical musicians joined by uilleann piper soloist
Liam O'Flynn, acoustic guitar, Irish harp and percussion. For the
most recent performance of this work in Belfast's Waterfront Hall
in March 2001, Shaun added a part for fiddle which on the night
was performed by the incomparable Nollaig Casey. Over and above
the fusion of classical and traditional musicians, soars the pure
voice of Rita Connolly.
The reception of 'Granuaile' by critics and public has been overwhelming.
"It's hard to describe the euphoric atmosphere at the end of
Shaun Davey's concert at the Queen's Hall without going over the
top. The reaction of the audience was just about the most spontaneously
enthusiastic I can remember at any Edinburgh event....Rita Connolly's
voice was a sheer delight to listen to."
| Folk Roots
"A truly wondrous and exciting work. Left the audience ecstatic,
the Ulster Orchestra obviously enjoying the experience as much as
the raving, cheering audience."
| Belfast Newsletter
"Irish folk and orchestra blended with brilliance"
"Specially written for Rita Connolly, this work sets off her
| Liberte du Morbihan-France
"Davey's forceful score succeeds in suggestion the wildness
of the sea and Mayo landscape as well as the turbulence of the era...a
very enjoyable musical experience."
| The Record Roundup,
"A wild and magnificent song cycle," Libby Purvis, writing
in The Observer, UK
" Granuaile is an astonishingly beautiful work,"
Island Advance, NY
"The suite for singer, piper and orchestra, which was transmitted
live on radio, was received enthusiastically. The audience demanded
| Sunday Tribune-Dublin
"Granuaile is one of the enduring classic sleepers of the
1970s. Symphonic, poetic, popular, blazingly inspired, Granuaile,
a song cycle for Rita Connolly’s dreamily perfect and raspingly
memorable voice is unmatched in all the hoo-hah around the Celtic
commercial revival. It stands head and shoulders above the rest.
" - Rob Barnett - Film Music on the Web